Anzhi relegated from Russian PL for third time since 2011 mega-money takeover

Willian was the last major signing at Anzhi.

Anzhi Makhachkala looked like an upcoming superpower back in 2011.

The small Dagestani side were taken over by local billionaire Suleyman Kerimov that year - he was effectively just given control by the President of Dagestan - increasing their budget to €230 million.

In came the likes of Roberto Carlos, Samuel Eto'o, Yuri Zhirkov, and Willian and suddenly Anzhi were challengers in Russia.

They finished 5th in 2011/12, 3rd in 2012/13 - next step, champions, right? No. Quite the opposite, actually.

Funding was cut and the club that planned world domination just collapsed overnight.

Players were sold and Anzhi were relegated the next season. They did bounce back the next year, though, immediately winning promotion and looked like re-establishing themselves as a 'normal' top-flight club.

But things have collapsed once again. They were actually relegated last season only to be re-inserted into the Premier League after another club went bust.

This year, however, they have no such 'luck' - with two games to go, they've gone back down.

It's a dramatic collapse for a club that really did look like future players at one point. The fees they were paying were at the elite level, while their wages blew everyone out of the water.

Roberto Carlos with Anzhi Makachkala.

When Eto'o joined, for instance, they paid him a staggering-at-the-time €20m a year. For perspective, that was only €2m less than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi earned combined that year.

The story goes to show how fragile clubs are when they're backed by billionaires. Recent reports have claimed that Paris Saint-Germain's owners may scale back their funding, and it makes you wonder what could happen to the dominant side in French football.

As for Anzhi, the dreams they had eight years ago are now long gone. They'll always have those two years, though, and memories of the likes of Eto'o and Willian running games for them.

Not many clubs can say that.

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